The Portrayal Of Women Throughout The Novel ' A Tale Of Two Cities ' Essay

The Portrayal Of Women Throughout The Novel ' A Tale Of Two Cities ' Essay

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The portrayal of women throughout the history of literature has changed greatly over the years. The once elegant, quiet, and helpless damsels in distress has changed into strong independent women who try to speak their mind and fight for themselves, just as any male would. More modern writers try to weave many of these modern ideals of women with all its complexity into cohesive, interesting and even awe-inspiring heroines both on film and in novels. And many times, these same ideals of intelligence, strength, and complexity are even implemented in villainous female characters. However, not all writers would feel this way about modern female characters. Famous writers such as Charles Dickens had a different set of ideals for women that they would often draw from. In his novel A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens is able to reveal his attitude towards women through his portrayal of his female characters. His perspective of women were highly influenced by his time period and by the women who were in his life. Dickens’ female characters in this novel show his attitude towards women and what qualities he finds most admirable and deplorable.

Dickens ' epitome of a perfect woman is exemplified in the character Lucie Manette. Throughout his many works, Dickens has had several "good" female heroines and they are seem to fit a distinct mould. They oftentimes appear to be "truly virtuous, patient, domestic women...mostly in the home, doing domestic things and supporting her husband" (Scheckner 270-272). Many of these ideals can be seen in the women of Dickens ' life, such as Maria Beadnell, Mary Hogarth, and Ellen "Nelly" Ternan. The first of the three women was the daughter of a banker that Dickens became obsessed with. She did not return h...


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...Miss Pross. A third woman that Dickens seems to draw characteristics from is Maria Beadnell. When he first met her, he became obsessed with her; however, when he met her later in life when she was older, he lost all interest and was even disgusted by her (Fox par. 11). This transition of emotion is seen in both Madame Defarge and The Vengeance. First, a young Madam Defarge is empathized with because of the loss of her family (Dickens 202-206), but then she grows into the "ruthless, strong, fearless, shrewd woman... [who is] wholly unfeminine" (Robson 25). Similarly, The Vengeance is described as "imbued from her childhood with a brooding sense of wrong, and an inveterate hatred... If she had ever had virtue in her," (Dickens 226). This could mean that at one time, The Vengeance had some of the feminine qualities that Dickens desired, but with age she was corrupted.

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